9 May 1917

With Feisal’s good wishes sounding after them, Lawrence and a small band of 45 Arabs rode away from Wejh in the glare of the mid-afternoon sun.

“The desert route to Akaba was so long and so difficult that we could take neither guns nor machine-guns, nor stores nor regular soldiers …

“Sherif Nasir led us: his lucent goodness, which provoked answering devotion even from the depraved, made him the only leader (and a benediction) for forlorn hopes …

“Auda and his kinsmen were with us; also Nesib el Bekri, the politic Damascene, to represent Feisal to the villagers of Syria …

“Feisal made up a purse of twenty thousand pounds in gold — all he could afford and more than we asked for — to pay the wages of the new men we hoped to enrol, and to make such advances as should stimulate the Howeitat to swiftness.

“This inconvenient load of four hundredweight of gold we shared out
between us, against the chance of accident upon the road. Sheikh Yusuf, now back in charge of supply, gave us each a half-bag of flour … and Nasir took enough on baggage camels to distribute a further fourteen pounds per man when we had marched the first fortnight, and had eaten room for it in our bags.

“We had a little spare ammunition and some spare rifles as presents; and loaded six camels with light packs of blasting gelatine for rails or trains or bridges in the north. Nasir, a great Emir in his own place, also carried a good tent in which to receive visitors, and a camel load of rice for their

They seemed a small party to win a new province, mused Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The march to Akaba had begun.

Events of 9 May 1917 as recounted by T. E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).